In Gibsons, we have been blessed with favorable access to the Gibsons Aquifer, a pure groundwater resource which provides potable water to the Town’s three water zones. It’s a pristine, award-winning and irreplaceable natural asset and we take our stewardship of it very seriously.
The initiatives outlined below describe actions we have taken to protect the Gibsons Aquifer within our municipal boundaries. However, safeguarding our primary water source also requires that we protect the entire watershed, which extends well beyond the Town of Gibsons’ borders. You can read about our efforts to protect the watershed here.
Development Permit Area No. 9
The Town of Gibsons has established Development Permit guidelines to regulate development in the areas designated as Development Permit Areas (DPAs).
DPA 9 is the Development Permit Area related to the Gibsons Aquifer and was established to:
- Protect the Gibsons Aquifer from possible pollution from land use and development activities;
- Protect the integrity of the low-permeable till layer (the aquitard);
- Promote the efficient use of water to ensure a sustainable hydrologic system in the watershed and ensure a sustainable source of potable water; and
- Provide an opportunity for furthering the understanding of the hydrology of the Gibsons Aquifer system.
Aquifer Mapping Study & Update
Another large investment the Town’s taxpayers have made in protecting our water sours is the commissioning of a grant-assisted four-year mapping study of the Gibsons Aquifer. Completed in 2013, at a total cost of $500,000, this comprehensive, science-based water-strategy document has become a key resource for any person contemplating projects that might impact the aquifer, from the Town’s planners to the province’s environmental officers.
Currently, work is underway to update the data collected in the original mapping study, including predictions of climate change impacts, water use and drilling data. A preliminary report summarizing how the aquifer mapping and numerical modelling updates compare to the 2013 Mapping Study will be delivered by the consultant in early 2022.
Groundwater Monitoring Program
Gibson’s Official Community Plan envisions us adding approximately 5,000 residents to the Town over the next 20 years (for a total population of 10,000). As our population grows, the Aquifer Mapping Study prescribes gathering detailed information about the long-term effects of variables such as user demand, climate change, and sea level rise on the aquifer’s total capacity. Accordingly, the Town implemented an annual groundwater monitoring program in 2009, so that we are consistently able to make sound, fact-based decisions about our future build-out.
In 2012, the Town completed the installation of a universal water metering system at a cost of $1.5 million. This initiative delivered many important benefits, helping us to identify and repair hidden leaks and raise our collective awareness of water use. At the same time, our finance department implemented a new “user-pay” system, along with appropriate water rates, in order to cover the operation, maintenance and future replacement costs of Gibson’s water infrastructure.
Together, these initiatives have led to a dramatic decline in our community’s water use. In fact, between 2008 and 2020, our Town’s per capita water usage dropped by more than half, from approximately 800 litres per day to approximately 350 litres per day.
Aquifer Protection and the George Hotel
The Town has followed an extensive and exhaustive review process to ensure that the Gibsons Aquifer will be protected once the George Project gets underway. This video summarizes the results of this review and explains how the site clean-up and subsequent construction process will take place so that our aquifer remains safe at every stage of site development.
We have also provided responses to a number of Frequently Asked Questions about Aquifer Protection in relation to the George.